Skip to main content

For updates and guidance related to COVID-19 / Coronavirus, click here.

Series 39 – Direct Participation Programs Principal Exam

The Series 39 exam — the Direct Participation Programs Principal Qualification Exam (DP) — assesses the competency of an entry-level principal to perform their job as a direct participation programs principal. 

The exam measures the degree to which each candidate possesses the knowledge needed to perform the critical functions of a direct participation programs principal, including the rules and statutory provisions applicable to the supervisory management of a broker-dealer that limits its products to direct participation programs.

In addition to the Series 39 exam, candidates must pass the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) Exam and either the General Securities Representative Exam (Series 7) or the Direct Participation Programs Representative Exam (Series 22) to hold the Direct Participation Programs Principal registration. For more information about the Series 39 exam, refer to FINRA Rule 1210 and FINRA Rule 1220(a)(12).

COVID-19 Guidance on FINRA-Administered Exams

FINRA and Prometric take the health and well-being of our community as a top priority. In response to the recent guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) related to the growing concerns about the Coronavirus (COVID-19), Prometric is closing its testing centers in the United States and Canada for a period of 30 days, starting March 18, 2020. Candidates who have an existing appointment will receive an email from Prometric with instructions on how to reschedule their appointment to a future date; rescheduling fees will not be applied. To change an existing appointment scheduled over 30 days (April 16 or later) or to schedule a new appointment, please access the Prometric website.

Additionally, FINRA is aware of the challenges that COVID-19 is presenting for our candidates who want to take exams. FINRA will extend all enrollment windows that are currently open and scheduled to expire by the end of May. Each FINRA-administered exam enrollment end date will be extended through the same end date of May 31, 2020. 

Please visit FINRA’s COVID-19 / Coronavirus page for complete updates and guidance.


Content Outline

The Series 39 Content Outline provides a comprehensive guide to the range of topics covered on the exam, as well as the depth of knowledge required. 

The outline is comprised of the three major job functions of a direct participation programs principal. The table below lists the allocation of exam items for each major job function.

Major Job Functions Number of Exam Items
(F1) Structure and Regulation of Direct Participation Program (DPP) Offerings 46
(F2) Sales Supervision, General Supervision of Employees, Regulatory Framework of FINRA 32
(F3) Compliance with Financial Responsibility Rules 22


Candidates must be associated with and sponsored by a FINRA member firm or other applicable self-regulatory organization (SRO) member firm to be eligible to take FINRA principal-level qualification exams. For more information on registration requirements, refer to FINRA Rule 1210.

The Series 39 has a corequisite exam requirement. Candidates must pass the SIE exam and the Series 7 or Series 22 exams to hold the direct participation programs principal registration.

For more information on the registration process, see Register a New Candidate.

Permitted Activities

Covered supervisory activities and products include regulatory compliance over sales of:

  • Direct participation program limited partnerships (e.g., real estate, oil and gas, and equipment leasing)
  • Limited liability companies
  • S corporations

In addition to sales supervision, the Series 39 qualifies a principal for the overall supervision of a firm’s investment banking and securities business — including compliance, underwriting and advertising — for those activities specially covered by each supervisory principal’s license.